Relationship Repair when Apologies are Due


HOW to Apologize
beginning with how NOT to

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Intentionality Series

Find it on ADDCoach Wisdom on Pinterest – linked to thedailyquotes.com

Just because we didn’t do something intentionally (“on purpose”), doesn’t mean the injured party is not entitled to a sincere apology for the reality that we were involved and that something was damaged – or somebody was hurt – as a result.

Apologizing doesn’t mean that you have been purposely wrong and that the other person is absolutely right. It means that you value your relationship more than your ego.

ADD/EFD oopses

Far more often than many of the neurotypical members of society, those of us with what I refer to as Alphabet Disorders (AD[h]D, EFD, TBI, OCD and more) tend to say and do things that get us into hot water with our friends and loved ones.

  • Unfortunately, according to a great many of my clients through the years, instead of cleaning it up and asking for forgiveness, we tend to allow hurt and resentment to fester as a result of our reluctance to apologize.
  • Even more often, we make things even worse by our bungling attempts at taking responsibility for our actions when we do attempt to say we’re sorry – making it even more difficult for us to decide to apologize in the future.

While we might argue that the above points are two sides of the same coin, shame (certainly a factor), I have observed that only a few of us truly understand HOW to apologize – so we tend not to offer them as often as they are deserved.

That’s unfortunate, because apologizing costs us nothing, means a great deal to those we have disappointed or offended, and is a relatively easy thing to learn to do in an effective manner.

8 Reasons we don’t apologize more readily & more often

There are probably as many explanations as there are people who “refuse” to apologize, but they tend to cluster in areas similar to one or more of those below.

  1. We have collapsed blame, fault, and intentionality with apologyThey are NOT the same, and the presence of the former is completely unrelated to the need for an apology.
  2. Our egos are attached to appearing “perfect” or loving or emotionally sensitive in some black and white manner, fearing that apologizing makes us seem weak, ineffective or damaged in some fashion beyond that which we already fear that we might be.  The opposite is actually true.
  3. We aren’t fully appreciating the feelings of the individual at the effect of our actions, words or behavior, frequently because we ourselves would not respond in a similar manner.  We let ourselves off the hook with the lame excuse that they are “over-reacting”  — contexting our actions their fault.
  4. We feel as if we’re “always apologizing” – most often because we’ve been told that so many times throughout our lives we’ve concluded that yet another won’t really make much of a difference anyway. How can we expect to rebuild trust if we won’t take responsibility for our actions when they are hurtful?
  5. We don’t know how to “fix it,” and we are hoping that saying nothing will allow it to become no more important than a bit of dirt under a carpet.  By the time our attention is drawn to the huge dirty pile in the corner, it seems as if it really could be too late to repair the damage.
  6. They are younger than we are, or less senior, so we allow ourselves the excuse that an apology from us would be “inappropriate.”  Even very young children and junior office assistants are entitled to an apology whenever our actions would merit an apology to someone older or more senior – especially if we didn’t intend harm.
  7. It takes us a while to realize that an apology is probably due – or to work up the courage to offer one – and we don’t know how to begin at a later date.  It’s never to late to attempt to set things right.
  8. We lack the skill. When we believe we are apologizing, the person on the receiving end hears something entirely different: an attempt to shift the blame.

Whatever underlies our reticence or lack of effectiveness, we can learn to apologize effectively, and our happiness with our relationships will improve significantly once we do.

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Surviving Beloved’s ADD


Ten Tips when the ADD/EFD is Beloved’s

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

As you read the article below, don’t get hung up on the use of “ADD” as the diagnostic handle. I use it to refer to the ATTENTIONAL struggles common among all of the Executive Functioning Disorders.  The article will also be helpful if your Beloved’s “handle” is TBI, EFD, OCD, or any of what I refer to as the Alphabet Disorders.

As I mentioned in the first article of the Beloved Series, I get a lot of differently phrased questions from spouses that, essentially, all boil down to the same thing:

How do I deal with ADD
when it’s not my ADD?

Great question!  Relationships are tough enough without additional complications.

Throw in a little ADD for-better-or-for-worse, and it starts looking like a promise you might just have to break.

Toward the end of When Beloved Has ADD, I encouraged you to believe that  ALL the relationship goodies are beyond that “wall” of “I can’t deal with this another minute!” – as is your own inner healing, the need for which is bringing everything to the surface in this manner.

That’s cold comfort when somebody else’s ADD repeatedly complicates your dream of riding off into the sunset together, happily ever after.

The relationship you dreamed of is still there – behind that wall of pain, rejection & reaction. As awful as it feels, there is a shiny silver lining to this blackest of clouds, whether you work it out with this Beloved or not.

MEANWHILE, this section will give you Ten Tips designed to help immediately. Don’t worry – your needs won’t get overlooked, and CAN’T get overlooked, but I can’t do much to help there in ten quick suggestions.

If you want some immediate relief to avoid damaging your relationship beyond repair while we’re working on how to change dynamics on the home-front, try one or all of the tips below.

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When Beloved Has ADD


HOW COME I’m the only grown-up
in this relationship?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic.

I get a lot of differently phrased questions from spouses and partners that, essentially, all boil down to the a similar frustration:

How do I deal with ADD
when it’s not my ADD?

Their words are different, their issues are slightly different, and their frustration levels can be anywhere from hopelessness, to exasperation, to panic, to RAGE.

When posted on one of the ADD bulletin boards I try to support, there is usually embarrassment tinged with a light sprinkling of shame in the tone of their posts – as if they should be able to figure it all out without help or information.  So THAT’s a good place to start here.

Your FIRST task is to stop being so hard on yourself –– for your frustrations OR for posting them on “ADD sites.”  I promise you that those sites are are frequented by a lot of other spouses desperate for information before they commit Hari Kari – or worse!

Most people, myself included, admire your willingness to use that safety valve and the honesty with which you post your frustrations.  It IS frustrating to be “forced” to deal with an Executive Functioning Disorder as confusing as ADD/EFD, especially when it isn’t even your own!

One of the things I always need to remind the ADD half in couples coaching is that the non-ADDers deserve extra credit for sticking around rather than running away screaming!  Being pre-frontal cortex backup is NOT an appropriate part of the “standard” deal.

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HOW to Listen from Belief


Drawing of two smiling figures standing behind a question mark; thought bubbles over their heads: a red X, and a green checkmark

Beneficial Assumptions

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
See Listening from Belief for background & introduction

I’m not big on listening through assumptions of any kind,
generally, but I think you’ll find that filtering your listening
through the following Four Assumptions will help you
greatly, especially if you are viewing life through The ADD Lens™.

 . . . . Remember . . . . Remember . . . . Remember . . . .

1.  Solutions are individual – and relationship – specific.

•  No two ADD/EFDers have the same “flavor”
•  FLAVOR shapes what an individual ADDer can and cannot do personally

2.  Distinctions help bring unreasonable assumptions to consciousness.

•  Take the time to distinguish the terms you find yourself using.
•  Remember to distinguish “can’t” from “won’t”

3.   Real questions have real answers

•  Ask real questions — not indictments ending with question marks
•  Emulate Sherlock Holmes, not Perry Mason
•  Practice Sherlocking until it becomes second nature

4.  The most powerful way to listen to is to listen from belief.

•  Don’t “should” on each other.
 If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the foot!*

—————————-
*mgh’s motto for The Optimal Functioning Institute™

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